FEARS of Venezuelans taking jobs from Trinidadians, an artistic couple dealing with infidelity and a community grappling with crime were among the pieces featured at the Necessary Arts School Cycle 23 Graduating Showcase.
The showcase was held on Monday night at the Little Carib Theatre, White and Robert Streets, Woodbrook, and was entitled Social Disorder.
The night kicked off with the Necessary Arts Juniors performing a dance and spoken word piece to Child of the Universe based on the poem Desiderata by American writer Max Ehrmann. The juniors spoke of the issues facing "sweet stressing TT" including "zesser boys and the gang mentality and referenced young people who have been killed in TT like Akiel Chambers, Sean Luke and 14-year-old Naomi Nelson, who was shot and killed in Big Yard, Carenage on May 3. The piece ended with the juniors speaking their own names and talking about their dreams and aspirations.
Both the juniors and the seniors received their certificates on the night. The next four pieces featured the seniors and the first Work, Work, Work was a hilarious workplace drama where three office employees fear that a Venezuelan will be replacing them. The piece skilfully mixed humour with an examination of xenophobia, workplace attitudes and productivity. A stand out of the piece was Michelle Raymond as a stage cleaner.
The next piece Love and Soca featured a wacky female soca artiste (Natasha Lake) and her Afrocentric spoken-word, poet husband (Richard Lezama) planning a getaway and dealing with the wife's infidelity. The piece, which dips its toe into gender politics, interchanged between regular drama and reality show-style confessionals and is played mostly for laughs.
The strongest piece of the night was A Crime Spree where a cross section of characters discusses the impact of crime in their community at the neighbourhood parlour after hearing of a recent shooting. The tragic twist comes when the rich female character (Natasha Lake), who believes she is safe from all the crime and violence, learns that her son Justin is the one who has been killed and her screams are truly heart-wrenching.
The final performance of the night was a topical, spoken-word piece Social Disorder featuring all 11 graduates.
Artistic director and teacher Penelope Spencer in her director's note said the production was about the present situation in TT.
"We hope that the performance stimulate your mind or give rise to your emotions. We are grateful to bring both the students and the audience together to share this journey."
She thanked the students for using Necessary Arts School as their tool to go through this theatre industry.
"Even though it was a bit challenging working with so many different talents, in the end it all came together beautifully."
Spencer told the audience the 11 graduates participated in a three-month acting course and 95 per cent of them had never acted before. The other tutors were Michael Cherrie, Cecilia Salazar and Lylah Persad.
Graduate Leah Cadogan in her testimonial said: "My experience at Necessary Arts was inspiring and motivating and I'm looking forward to a future in the acting world."
Graduate Brent Barry in his testimonial said: "It was an incredible and educational journey through the world of acting and I made some new friends along the way (and) thoroughly enjoyed it."
Richard Lezama said: "This course has been informative, inspiring and it helped build my confidence as a person and as a performer."
Natasha Lake said: "Cycle 23 has been an emotionally and educationally fulfilling experience. What was taught is not only key to the art, but can be applied to life itself."
For more info on the Necessary Arts 24th Cycle: www.necessaryarts.org.